A historic passenger jet flight from Australia to Antarctica touched down smoothly on a blue ice runway Friday, launching the only regular airlink between the continents.
Some half a century since the idea of a runway on Antarctica was first raised, the Airbus A319 from Hobart landed at Wilkins near the Australian Antarctic Division's Casey Station.
The runway, which is four kilometres (2.5 miles) long, 700 metres wide and moves about 12 metres southwest a year because of glacial drift, was carved out of the ice and levelled using laser technology.
"The runway here is a lot smoother than a lot of runways at international airports around the world," said pilot Garry Studd.
The 46 million dollar (41 million US) runway took more than two years to build and is designed to bring scientists and other Australian Antarctic Division staff to the frozen continent to study issues such as climate change.
Flights will arrive weekly during the warmest months of October to March but will not be open for tourist travel.
Video: Clip Syndicate
Tags: Runway | Antarctica | Plane | Aircraft